Devlin pleased with impact of Cargin’s younger brigade

By Niall Gartland

SEVEN Antrim Senior Championship titles in nine years says all that needs to be said about Cargin, and their manager Ronan Devlin is content with how things are shaping up at the midway point of the league.

The Antrim kingpins sit alone at the summit of Division One with seven wins from seven matches, even though they have had to field without various county footballers and injured men.

Devlin is back in the managerial hotseat and he points out that squad depth hasn’t been a major issue due to the talented younger players coming through the ranks at the club.

“We’re played seven and won them all. I can’t say we’ve set the world alight but we’re scoring fairly heavily so I can’t complain.

“We’ve a good 10 or 11 of our available starters not playing so in that sense it’s good that we’re still winning.

“We have loads of new players who have been handed their opportunity to show what they can do, and a number of them have really grasped that opportunity.”

The draw for the Antrim club championship was made last week and as it happened, Cargin have been pitted in the exact same group as last year alongside Rossa, Tír na nÓg and St John’s. Not the most exciting prospect in the world, admits Devlin.

“You couldn’t make it up really. Portglenone and Ahoghill always seem to get the same draw as well, and we’ve had St John’s for a few years now.

“It’s a coincidence but in terms of freshness it’s a poor coincidence, not that it matters ultimately as we’ll have to approach it in the exact same way.”

The Antrim leagues start relatively early, something that Devlin is ambivalent enough about, and he says they do their best to prevent player burnout from rearing its ugly head.

“I don’t know what the reason behind it is but the league starts very early, it’s been March this last couple of years.

“To me it’s weird when they talk about a split-season as we don’t really seem to get that.

“We gave the boys several months off after we finished up last year, there was no big rush back to training. They needed a rest and the league starts that early that you don’t really get a rest unless you make plans for it.”

In the long run, Cargin would love to have another crack at the Ulster Championship. They’ve really put it up to Glen in their last two campaigns but Devlin doesn’t want any patronising pats on the head about their efforts.

“More to the point, we’re disappointed we haven’t turned them over. There’s a belief out there that teams like Cargin are happy to go and give a good account of themselves. But I think our boys are more than capable of beating the Glens of this world, and whenever we’ve won Antrim, that’s what we’ve aimed towards.”

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